I have to admit that the day is getting to me, so I figured I’d try to cheer myself up a bit. And what better way to do that than with action figure chit-chat!
Anyway, over the years I have had many Batman action figures. He’s one of my all time favourite comic book characters, very much rooted in seeing the Tim Burton Batman movie on opening weekend all the way back in 1989. It isn’t a movie that I particularly like as an adult, but I recognize its personal and cultural significance, and in terms of visual style and cartoonish logic, I like it from every other standpoint except for the weak script and flaccid pacing.
Aside from my personal feelings about the film, Burton’s Batman exploded the merchandising potential of Batman as a character and made the caped crusader a permanent fixture in the pop culture landscape ever since. The ToyBiz Batman action figure (along with the Batmobile and Batwing and Joker and Bob the Good) were must haves, and somehow I managed to get my greedy mitts on all of those toys in the early nineties. The ToyBiz Batman, even by the standards of the day, was chunky, goofy, and weird. But it was MY Batman figure, and the only game in town for a nine year old kid who was obsessed with the character (along with everyone else).
To date, I can’t count the number of different Batman figures I have owned. Aside from Optimus Prime and Luke Skywalker, Batman reigns supreme as the one character that has the heaviest representation in my Toybox. Offerings from Kenner, ToyBiz, Hasbro, DC Direct/Collectibles, and Mattel (but not Hot Toys because I’m not a millionaire) have all cycled in and out of my collection. Every style of Batman, from Animated to Gritty and Grim have been represented, and I even have two Ben Affleck Batman figures (the DCEU is uneven at best and abominable at worst, but the Bat-costume looks great).
And yet…no one Batman has every really captured the essence of the character for me. I’ll buy many more Batman figures in the future, but much like the Dark Knight himself, there is no one single definitive version, just variations on a theme. I think that is why he’s so merchandisable: Every generation has multiple versions of the character to choose from, and nobody can agree on what the essence of the character truly is, which feeds a desire in collectors to own a representation of ALL the essences of any given era.
Sound off on your characters that are endlessly purchasable in action figure form, or share what you think is the ultimate representation of that character.